Raising children is one of the most rewarding, most life-fulfilling jobs many of us have been tasked with. And while the experience is invaluable, the actual cost of raising children is something that should be considered when mapping out a financial plan so you are prepared for the potential financial headwinds you might face.
"Can I afford to have children?"
It’s a legitimate question! According to the USDA, the average middle-class family in the United States will spend about $12,980 annually per child.
Not including funding the child’s college education, the average middle-class family in the United States will spend $233,610 per child from age 0 to 17. When inflation is factored in, that number is actually $284,570.
Of course, this number can vary quite a bit depending on several factors. The location, cost of living, the income level of the parents, the needs of the child. But nevertheless, it is mind-blowing to think that raising a family of 4 kids could cost a million dollars by the time they are ready for college.
How does that cost break down?
Housing is the biggest expense, with 29% of the overall cost being housing. Next comes food at 18%. Childcare and education is 16% but this can vary depending on the institution and age.
According to a study performed in 2015, the more children, the less each one costs. Costs become scalable the more children you have.
Older kids can babysit the younger ones which bring down childcare costs. Food can be purchased in bulk. Toys and clothes can be handed down. Kids can share bedrooms. In fact, the cost of raising a child drops dramatically when the child is the 3rd, 4th or 5th down the line.
What can you do to prepare?
These are the initial expenses you’ll want to get a jump start on:
- Maternity Costs
The average cost for a no-complications, straight vaginal delivery in the United States is $10,808. This can be reduced by your insurance plan, but be sure to know how your insurance treats not only the delivery, but all of the appointments, ultra-sounds, epidural, postpartum care, etc.
Diapers alone cost an average of $900 / year!
Formula, if breastfeeding is not preferred or not possible, can cost $1,800 / year!
Having or adopting a child is no small feat. When you consider the toll it takes on you both mentally, physically, and financially, it is quite a journey. That said, it is one that any parent will tell you is well worth it when it is all said and done. We recommend meeting with an advisor even before you start trying to have children — just so you can get a head start on the budget and financial planning process.
Raising kids is a wonderful blessing, and one that requires a bit of planning. The first couple of years can be stressful enough with reduced sleep and fussy babies. The last thing you need is a financial hardship on top of it. Fortunately with a bit of planning you can eliminate the financial aspect from your list of worries with a well thought-out plan in place.